Extension's Military Kids Program Receives Grant
Writer: Julene Reese, 435-797-0810
Contact: Dave Francis, 435-760-4109
USU EXTENSION 4-H MILITARY PROGRAM RECEIVES GRANT
The Utah State University Extension 4-H program recently received a $10,000 grant to assist with 4-H military programs in the Uintah Basin area. The areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and healthy living were chosen to be administered through the grant in clubs and camps conducted through September of this year.
The local National Guard and the Uintah County Extension office will work together to administer the military partnership grant and have identified approximately 40 military-affiliated youth who could participate in the program. Grant funds will be used to provide supplies for robotics, sewing, maker movement and Junior Master Gardener camps and clubs.
According to Dave Francis, USU Extension associate professor and Utah 4-H military liaison, the target audience is youth from military families who live in the Uintah Basin and don’t have close access to these 4-H programs.
“This grant will allow these youth to have the 4-H programs right in their area without having to travel the three hours it takes to get to the closest clubs in Salt Lake City,” he said. “It gets back to the roots of 4-H of giving youth a sense of belonging and being part of something. If you have ongoing activities in a local community, the chances of the youth being involved are much higher.”
Through discussions with Utah National Guard youth coordinators and the Family Assistance coordinator, club and camp topics were determined based on interest in the area and previous successes that have been realized at other National Guard locations in the state.
According to J. Kelly Barnes, Utah National Guard state youth coordinator, the Utah National Guard has an established youth program based at Camp Williams in Riverton, but National Guard units are dispersed throughout the state, which makes programming an issue for youth living in geographically isolated areas.
“This grant enables us to form a partnership and get programming to these geographically dispersed youth,” he said. “It will serve all military youth within the Vernal area, including Roosevelt and Duchesne. We will work with the local county offices to formulate an action plan and distribute the information directly to families in those areas. We consider USU Extension 4-H as our most important partnership.”
The specific clubs chosen under the STEM and healthy living areas will help youth learn a wide array of skills. Sewing will emphasize life skills developed through sewing techniques and science abilities; robotics will be taught using the EV3 Lego Robotics kits to teach engineering, problem solving and communication skills; the maker movement is a technology-based extension of the do-it yourself culture and encourages youth to try new and unique applications of technologies through the use of creativity, invention and prototyping; and the Junior Master Gardener Program will teach youth to grow an outdoor garden and relate it to MyPlate and healthy living.
Kevin Kesler, director of 4-H and youth programs for USU Extension, said the grant will be an important asset to the 4-H military youth in the Uintah Basin area as they will have the opportunity to learn new life skills.
“We are always pleased when we are able to make a difference in the lives of youth, especially those who are underserved, and this grant will help make that happen,” he said.